Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? Otherwise known as the Pareto Principle or the vital law of the few, this theory estimates that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.
This means that 20% of the time you spend working accomplishes 80% of the work completed.
Think about that. If you are working for an 8 hour day, less than two of those hours accomplishes 80% of your total work for the day. If this is true, than how are you spending the other 6 hours? No, you aren't napping or daydreaming. So, what happens? How can you manage this to be more productive?
In a field service business, the busy season is critical. Having a lot of work is great, but it can also lead to a lot of stress about impending deadlines. The last thing that you want to do is disappoint clients or turn away new ones. The problem is that time management happens to be one of the most difficult things about running a small business. Here are some concrete ways that you can make the most of your time during your field service business' busy season. These will help you make the most of your time and perhaps even tip the 80/20 rule in your favor.
1. Have an Answer
One of the biggest issues when you're busy is that you want to be left alone to work. I think you understand the unlikelihood of that ever happening. During my busy season the phone seems to ring every time I sit down to work, and right after I get off the phone, I get a knock on my office door. Of course, I encourage my clients and team members to ask me questions because I want us to operate as one unit with the same goals. The better that you are able to answer questions directly impacts your company's productivity.
When approaching questions,
Anticipate questions- know what people are going to ask before they dial your number. Have an answer ready for them.
Hit all the birds with one stone- If someone brings up a good question, one that other people are likely to have as well, send out an email to everyone on the job. This minimizes the emails and phone calls that you will receive later.
Be consistent- give everyone the same answer. This may seem obvious, but I've found that it's trickier than you think. This is especially true when you know that your clients want to hear one thing and your crew wants to hear another.
2. Streamline with Software
When I first started HindSite software, my vision was based on the idea of eliminating the busy work, so field service businesses can focus on the job at hand. As a small business owner, I know the frustrations that come with piles upon piles of paper work that gets in your way when you are trying to help your clients and do what your company does best. I used to work nights and weekend hours just staring at papers and becoming more stressed out during my busy season. You can avoid all this unnecessary time and energy (and become more organized as a result) by streamlining with Software such as HindSite. This is one way to get yourself out of the 80/20 rule.
3. Don't micromanage: Trust your employees
Avoid the temptation to try to do everything yourself. It doesn't work.
Of course, it's tempting to want to oversee every aspect of your company operation. After all, this is your life's work and you want it done your way. However, it is inefficient for you to try to be everywhere or double check everything, and this places more stress on your employees. Most people do not prefer to work in an environment where they are constantly monitored and are not free to make their own judgments. Besides, you have better things to do than monitor good workers.
Rather than micromanaging, try to empower your team. Empowerment is critical during the busy season when you simply cannot be everywhere at once. Empowerment is to instill confidence in every level of management, so they can take the initiative to make decisions, solve problems, and improve service. Encourage every worker to feel empowered by giving them the necessary skills, opportunity, accountability, and resources to succeed.
4. Take the first 30 minutes of your day to plan your day
Isn't it ironic that you can feel like you have more time when you spend more time planning? I find that the half hour it takes to plan my day is what really keeps me sane during the busy season. It keeps me on track and relatively stress free.
At the beginning of each day, make a list of all projects and their due dates.
Use this list to make a list of where you want to be in each project to be by the end of the day.
Use this list to plan your time with the realization that interruptions will happen.
Include your employees in your plan if necessary. It could be helpful for them to have measurable goals for each day.
5. Take a break
I am serious about this 100%.
The best use of your time when you are stuck and stressed out is not to keep struggling along. Take a break and come back with a fresh mind. So many times have I been sitting in front of a stale project that is going nowhere. I finally take a break from the project, and what do you know, I come back with the perfect answer to the previously impossible problem.
Remember, your brain is a muscle. Like your legs, it physically can not continue to run forever. After mental breaks, you will come back with a new capacity for reasoning and creativity. Try to take breaks regularly to keep your brain refreshed.
I recommend exercise as the best way to take a break. Taking a 30 minute walk or a jog each day can work wonders. Whether it's Frisbee at home with the kids or a weekly softball league, physical exertion can make you more productive in the office. At HindSite, we have a ping-pong table to take our minds off the stress. Don't ask how good I am at it.
Another important way to take care of your brain is by making sure that you get proper nutrition. Make sure that you are eating healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your brain functioning at its best. Ingredients such as whole grains, blueberries, broccoli, avocados, nuts, and seeds are known to enhance your memory and thinking.
Now that you have your time under control, use some of that to download our eBook for some great tips on a successful service business!